The provincial government says the hospital lab in Bonnyville and the assessment centre in St. Paul will soon be home to a pilot project for rapid testing of COVID-19. The province announced on Thursday that both Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Laboratories have been working to evaluate the effectiveness of the Abbott IDNow and PanBio COVID-19 testing kits.
The provincial government says more than 100,000 tests are available for distribution to the targeted sites. The pilot project is expected to start in the next few weeks and will see the sites in St. Paul and Bonnyville testing the IDNow tests while the PanBio tests will be tried in Calgary and Edmonton.
The tests will be used on patients who are within the first seven days of expressing symptoms, says the province, allowing health officials to “quickly identify positive cases at testing sites, reducing the need for patient samples to be transported to centralized public laboratories for processing.”
“Alberta has been a leader in testing its citizens for COVID-19 as a critical component of understanding and limiting the spread of the virus. Adding point-of-care rapid testing to our COVID-19 testing capacity will allow for the identification and notification of positive COVID-19 cases in under 20 minutes, speeding up the appropriate care and isolation of patients, which will reduce the risk of further spread,” says Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro.
The province’s health officials say they will use the pilots to determine how to streamline processes including patient management, results in notifications and digital record keeping before the tests are deployed widely across the province.